Here I am. Here you have my salty teeth. My endless kiss goodnight. Here you have: Your big unknown. Call me ocean, all you want. We both know better, and for one: I am no liar. I am where you came from; your primordial soup, your point of departure, the beginning of time. When you look at me, you are looking at your past and your future rising to get you. You are paging through the family album, and there I am: Your ancestral mother. The very space that nursed the specimen that would become you. Prepare for a wet and salty hug; I am getting up from my chair to kiss you.
It is all for love. It was always just for love, but not just for the love of you. Matter meets time and things start growing. I spent aeons longing for movements down below. A current here, a sparkle there, and you have no idea how small you were when you finally fluttered. My abyss holds many mysteries, but do not flatter yourself. I created many enigmas before you. I was a great botanist. I made anemones, kelps, weeds, corals and algae. And I blew life into jellyfish, starfish, any kind of fish, even the ones that you would later pray upon, but there you were, finally. Tailfin, gills and all. Swimming blind and not too smart in your prebiotic broth. Your little skeleton resembling that of a shrimp. Lucky you that Earth was still barren. Imagine the beings that would have considered you a tasty first course. White wine, Friday night, your fragile little self, trying to escape a plate full of dill at a candlelit supper.
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But it was all for love. The whales were for love. The shoals of beautiful herring, cod, mackerel, tuna. The tuna was for love! The dolphins, who with their grace and good nature had made better masters of the world. For love! The octopus, eight arms and all that ink, just for love. But then your brain started growing and this I admit: I was impressed. That brain of yours! The ideas, the creativity, the imagination. I wanted you to go and make something better of yourself. Not that I could stop you. Not then and there, and how I wept when you crawled upon land. You and all your desires. You, and your awareness of Death. You, and your love of tools.
I still gave you food. I nourished you, and in the beginning, you thanked me. You named gods after me, but as time passed you felt ashamed of the connection. I was not posh enough. You felt tainted by association, but still robbed me. Your brain kept growing but your soul withered. Is this a way to treat a mother? And remember; I did not make you a sole heir. I wanted you to share with all the beings that came from me; your brothers and sisters with gills and even those with wings in the air.
I will admit, I had a soft spot for you. I have admired your boats and ships more than you can imagine. For thousands and thousands of years I have let them cross me. I have felt their bows like fingers running over my skin. I have been caressed and scratched by your oars. I have lifted your vessels, filled your nets, and I have pulled you under, smashed you, drowned you so you’d know about the force of this being. The freedom, I gave you. The connections I offered you. I taught you how to swim, to navigate by the stars, and to pay attention to the force that is within you. I gave you everything and you thanked me with plastic, theft and warfare. And yet I see you walking on the beach. You gaze at me; you pace back and forth like a beast in a cage. What is it that you want from me now? Guidance? Absolution? Peace of mind? I will give you this: A kiss. I am your past. Pay attention. I am time itself. Your future rising to get you.
Wild Swims: Stories by Dorthe Nors is published by Pushkin Press on April 23, 2020, in paperback.